“If America could be, once again, a nation of self-reliant farmers, craftsmen, hunters, ranchers, and artists, then the rich would have little power to dominate others. Neither to serve nor to rule: That was the American dream.”

— Edward Abbey


Modern living offers us many blessings. Who would seriously want to live in a world without antibiotics and hot showers? But our modern comforts and conveniences come with a cost. Most folks are completely disconnected from where their food comes from. Tools, appliances, and furniture are deliberately designed to fall apart and be replaced; repairing things is a dying art.

It’s hard to find “stuff that works; stuff that holds up… stuff that’s real.”*

We’re not only filling landfills with our junk, we’re also fraying the solid yeoman’s culture that lay at the bedrock of America’s founding. We’re surrendering our autonomy and self-reliance to unfathomably wealthy and powerful global megacorporations that keep supplying us with dubious “needs” and profiting off of planned obsolescence.

All is not lost, though. A cultural movement is growing that runs counter to the mainstream current. Small farmers and ranchers are producing quality, wholesome foodstuffs for their neighbors — who not only know where their food comes from, they know the people who grow it. Craftsmen are building stuff that’s real, heirloom quality functional art that profoundly enhances the quality of our lives.

Central Oregon is chock-a-block with artisans creating everything from foodstuffs to furniture, musical instruments to decorative arts. Turns out, our region is at the epicenter of a worldwide movement of creative entrepreneurs — in the parlance of the moment known as “makers.”

Blogger Joy Poe noted in a June 4, 2020 post at ToughNickel.com that:

“Today, almost every government in the world is researching the economic impact of the creative industries in their country. The study by the British Council concludes that small businesses ‘at the cutting edge of creativity, may not only be of growing economic significance, but in some sense, are a harbinger of a whole new economic order.’”

In an essay on “The artisanal movement, and 10 things that define it,” Grant McCraken cites farmer’s markets as an avatar of the movement:

“The best example here perhaps is the farmer’s market…. (W)e want to see the face of the man who grew the food and shake his hand. We prefer to deal with a small retailer, someone who calls us by our first name, and knows our tastes so well, he sets things aside awaiting our arrival on Saturday morning. It is as if we have declared war on anonymity. It is as if we are attempting to ‘re-enchant’ the world with personalization.”

It is our good fortune to live in a thoroughly “re-enchanted” corner of the world, a region at the forefront of a movement that is bringing back to life values of simplicity, authenticity and quality — stuff that works.

*Hats off to Guy Clark: Craftsman.